|System: Wii, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Crave Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Left Field Productions||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 2, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
One of the most appealing aspects of almost every extreme skateboarding or BMX sports title is the ability to free-roam large, open obstacle courses and string together insane trick combos. It's a winning gameplay formula fans have come to expect. As a developer, if you're going to mess with a good thing then you'd better be prepared to make some major improvements. Moving away from trick-intensive, goal oriented play in favor of a high-speed racing setup is a bold course of action. It's a change that actually worked out fairly well in the case of a certain high profile downhill skateboarding title on the Wii, but in Dave Mirra BMX Challenge the move to a racing-heavy format just feels like a half-baked imitation.
It's possible to pull off some pretty cool trick combos in BMX Challenge, but most of the time you'll be focused on trying to stay ahead of the competition instead. The majority of the action takes place as players competing in a series of fast-paced races against five other computer-controlled opponents. The objective is to finish each race in first place while also nailing as many tricks as possible along the way and keeping your teeth off the curb. The balance between the racing and the trickster aspects of BMX Challenge is highly skewed towards the former. It's an occasionally fun - yet mostly frustrating - combination which even hardcore fans of the Dave Mirra extreme BMX stunt franchise may find disappointing.
In career mode, you'll get started with a bare-bones character customization menu. After choosing a general look, such as "nerd," "biker," or "punk," you can pick your helmet and skin color or make minor adjustments to your outfit. There's also the option of playing as Dave Mirra himself. With only a few choices available to begin with, it won't take long to come up with your character. Once that's taken care of you'll be barreling through alleyways, schoolyards, shipping docks, subterranean railways, museums, and many other unusual locations during your quest to beat out the competition and earn stars to advance onward.
The game features 12 different un-lockable courses. Every course is pretty linear, although about halfway through a race a second area of the track will open up. There are also plenty of shortcuts to stumble across. While the tracks look good overall, their poor physical design can be crippling at just the wrong moments. Ultra sharp turns, placed precarious close to speed zones and obstacle ridden stretches, make it easy to miss the curve altogether and slam into all manner of unpleasant obstructions. In many locations, it seems obstacles are placed in spots - at the end of grind rails, in the path of major jumps, etc. - where it's impossible to dodge them. Challenging players is one thing, but being sadistic is another. On the other hand, it's actually pretty amusing to watch your character crumple into all manner of different uncomfortable positions like a rag doll.
Borrowing a familiar control scheme of other Wii racing titles, BMX Challenge has players holding the Wii remote sideways. Turning is done by tilting the controller left and right. Tricks are executed by a combination of d-pad controls and the 1 and 2 buttons, which also control grinding and pedaling respectively. Though turning very sharply is occasionally problematic, the controls generally flow well with the action on screen. Jumping is an issue, however, as it requires you to sharply thrust the controller skyward. It often becomes difficult to handle airborne tricks, especially if you have a series of jumps in a row.